Oct 14 2016

This Sunday: Noir at the Bar Queens


Not going to lie: October snuck up on me. The one good thing about that is it’s already time for Noir at the Bar Queens! This Sunday, I’ll be reading with a terrific crew, including Dennis Tafoya, Rob Hart, Jen Conley, Dave White, Alex Segura, Scott Adlerberg, Greg Rossi, and Juliet Fletcher. We’ll be at The Beast Next Door (has any Noir at the Bar venue ever had a more appropriate name?), 42-51 27th St., Long Island City, right by the Queensboro Plaza station. The fun starts at 6pm. Hope to see you there!


Sep 12 2016

Where to Find Me at Bouchercon


I’ve been looking forward to this year’s Bouchercon ever since I heard that New Orleans would be the host. I’ve only visited once before, but the city holds a special place in my heart, because it helped me launch my freelance writing career. (I was so inspired by NOLA’s cemeteries that I had to write about them, even though the magazine that employed me never ran pieces like that; six months later, I quit my job and never looked back!)

I’m also excited because my story “The Siege” is a finalist for the Anthony Award for Best Short Story. (Have you had the chance to read it yet? Ellery Queen now has it online, and it’s also available through the Bouchercon website.) I couldn’t be more honored to be nominated, and I love that I’m in great company.

Here’s where to find me at Bouchercon:

Thursday, Sept. 15, 6:30pm-9pm: Bouchercon’s Opening Ceremonies will have a lot going on, and part of that will be an introduction of the Anthony Award nominees.

Friday, Sept. 16, 10:30am: Tor/Forge will be giving away paperback copies of BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS at its hospitality suite, and I’ll be on hand to sign them. I’ll also be dropping in on the suite throughout the day for Forge Author Bingo, so please say hello. (I may even be able to help you win a prize!)

Friday, Sept. 16, 8pm-9:30pm: The Anthony Awards ceremony will be at the Orpheum Theater, 129 Roosevelt Way.

Saturday, Sept. 17, noon-1pm: I’m on the panel ”Once in a Lifetime — How Did I Get Here?” with Kate Malmon (moderator), Angel Luis Colon, Jess Lourey, Russel McLean, and Jay Stringer. If you could see our email exchanges behind the scenes, you’d know we’re all crazy. This is going to be fun!


Aug 8 2016

Deadly Ink 2016 Recap

Oh, what a weekend! Deadly Ink started on Friday night with a dessert party and panel, and went nonstop until Sunday afternoon. It was a busy time for me, because I was the Toastmaster and my friend Reed Farrel Coleman was the Guest of Honor, so we had a full schedule of events. And while I wasn’t as good about taking photos as I meant to be, I had friends snap a few for the record books. Huge thanks to Debby Buchanan (who organized Deadly Ink), E.J. Watkins (who interviewed me during our Sunday brunch event), Roberta Rogow (“the voice of Deadly Ink!”), and everyone else who made the weekend so much fun!


With Reed at the opening night party on Friday.


Part of my job as Toastmaster was interviewing the Guest of Honor on Saturday morning. Reed and I had fun with that!


My ”Roaming the Globe: Mysteries Set Outside the USA” panel with Roberta Rogow (moderator), Annamaria Alfieri, and A.J. Sidransky.


Introducing Reed at the Saturday night gala.


Reed making his keynote speech.


Conference organizer Debby Buchanan presenting Jack Getze and A.J. Sidransky with their David Awards (tied vote for the award this year).


Very happy to meet my Twitter pal @dimesleuth in person at last!


Sunday morning “What If?” panel with Jane Kelly, Reed, and Annamaria. This one got crazy!


Being interviewed by E.J. Watkins


Sunday afternoon “Coming Attractions” panel. L to R: Jack Getze, me, Reed, Bruce DeSilva, Jeff Markowitz, E.J. Watkins, and Nina Mansfield, who stepped in as moderator at the last minute and did a fabulous job. Not sure why we look so serious here…


…Because this panel was a lot of fun. It was a great note to end on!




Aug 4 2016

Where to Find Me at Deadly Ink

Deadly Ink 2016

I’ve been looking forward to Deadly Ink — New Jersey’s annual crime fiction conference — for almost a year now. Last fall, the conference’s organizer, Debby Buchanan, asked me to serve as Toastmaster. It was an honor, especially because one of my main tasks this weekend is to interview Guest of Honor Reed Farrel Coleman, who is a friend as well as an author I deeply admire. Where to find me this weekend:


8:30pm: Deadly Ink opening-night reception


11:20am-12:15pm: My interview with Reed Farrel Coleman

4pm-4:55pm: “Roaming the Globe: Mysteries Set Outside the USA” with Roberta Rogow (moderator), Annamaria Alfieri, A. J. Sidransky, and me

7pm: Gala Awards Dinner


10am-10:55am: “What If?” with Roberta Rogow (moderator), Annamaria Alfieri, Reed Farrel Coleman, Jane Kelly, and me

11:30am-1pm: I’ll be interviewed by E.F. Watkins at brunch

1pm-2pm: “Coming Attractions” with Reed Farrel Coleman, Bruce DeSilva, Jack Getze, Nina Mansfield, Jeff Markowitz, E. F. Watkins, and me

2pm-2:30: “One Last Thing” Q&A with authors

Here’s the complete program. Remember, everything’s legal in New Jersey (to steal a line from HAMILTON). Hope to see you this weekend!

Jun 29 2016

Register Now for Deadly Ink!

Deadly Ink 2016

Is it really June 29th already? We’re halfway through 2016, and that means Deadly Ink is just over a month away. New Jersey’s great crime-fiction conference is scheduled for August 5-7 in New Brunswick (a short train ride away from New York, if you’ve never been). Reed Farrel Coleman will be Guest of Honor and I’ll be Toastmaster. Register before the end of the day on June 30th and you’ll automatically be entered in a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card or a Kindle. If you’re on Twitter follow @deadlyink for updates. Hope to see you there!

Jun 16 2016

Remembering Lois Duncan


Yesterday, Lois Duncan passed away. I didn’t know her well, but she was one of my writing heroes. At the 2015 Edgar Awards ceremony, I had the honor of introducing her when she received her Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way: her longtime agent was supposed to introduce her to the crowd at the Grand Hyatt’s ballroom, but he passed away two weeks before the ceremony. I was asked to step in because I’d spoken so passionately about Lois Duncan’s books when the the MWA’s national board discussed making her a Grand Master. I’d been surprised to find that some members of the board had never heard of her, because Lois Duncan’s thrilling, disturbing novels were such a big part of my life in elementary school and middle school.

Here’s an excerpt from my speech:

To call Lois Duncan a giant of the young adult genre would be an understatement. A giant of the genre might write some 50 books (many of them bestsellers), have her work translated into more than 20 languages, and win or be shortlisted for numerous awards along the way. All of that is certainly true in Lois Duncan’s case. But she hasn’t simply been successful in the young adult genre; she was one of the trailblazers who created a new category of YA literature. You don’t have to take the word of a rabid fangirl on this; no less of an authority than the New York Times just this month acknowledged Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton, and Lois Duncan as the three authors responsible for the rise of teenage-oriented publishing in the 1960s and 70s.

I suspect Lois Duncan had a particularly strong sense of what teenagers were interested in reading, because she was a teenager herself when she started writing professionally. She published her first story when she was 13 years old. By the time she was 16, she’d earned enough cash to buy herself a jeep. But if that sounds like the beginning of a charmed story, keep in mind that she was up against the censorship and strict moral code of the 1950s. Her first novel, Debutante Hill, was initially rejected because of a scene with a 19-year-old boy drinking a beer. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

Writing that introduction made me think about exactly why I’d connected so deeply with her work. There was a vein of darkness that ran through it, something pulsing and real. Her teenaged characters didn’t live sanitized Nancy Drew–like lives, solving mysteries between sock hops. They were flawed and struggling.

If there’s one thread that links all of Lois Duncan’s works, fiction and nonfiction alike, it’s the emotional honesty and intensity at their core. Whatever she writes — from Daughters of Eve’s view of sexism and violence or (my personal favorite) Stranger With My Face’s horror-infused vision of unbreakable family ties — Lois Duncan makes it feel real by grounding these stories in the raw vulnerability of teenagers’ lives. She understands the keen competition and fear of ostracism and the pressures on all sides. Her books stand up so well today because those things haven’t changed.

If you’d like to see the entire speech — and Lois Duncan’s own charming acceptance speech — you can watch it on YouTube:

As excited as I was to make that speech, that couldn’t compare to what happened afterwards, when Lois Duncan walked onstage and hugged me. It’s not every day that you learn one of your childhood idols is warm and witty, in addition to being brilliant. Rest in peace, Lois Duncan. And may your books live on forever.

2015 Edgars with Lois Duncan onstage


May 18 2016

Read “The Siege” Online

EQMDEC2015Maybe you read “The Siege” when it first appeared in print, in the December 2015 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. But if you missed it, it’s online now! The story is currently up for an Anthony Award and an Arthur Ellis Award. It’s a noir-infused tale about about a woman who seems to have everything… but her relationship with her husband began as an adulterous affair, and when she finds evidence that he’s up to his old tricks, her world starts to fall apart. My thanks to my friends at Ellery Queen for making the story available for free. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

May 9 2016

More Award News About “The Siege”

EQMDEC2015The list of 2016 Anthony Award finalists is out, and I’m honored to say that I’m on it. My story “The Siege,” published by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, is up for Best Short Story. If you’re thinking, Wait, I already heard this news a couple of weeks back, that’s because “The Siege” is also up for an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. It’s such a thrill to have people respond to a story in this way. My heartfelt thanks to all of the Bouchercon attendees who nominated “The Siege,” and congrats to all of the nominees. I’ll see you in New Orleans!

May 4 2016

2016 Edgars Recap


Last week was Edgar Week and Thursday was the awards banquet. So. Many. Highlights. A quick recap, in list form (because I do love lists):

  • I met one of my writing heroes, Walter Mosley, who won MWA’s Grand Master Award this year. Not going to pretend I didn’t go full fangirl. He’s incredible, and his rousing, inspiring acceptance speech brought the house to its feet.
  • This year, I served as a judge on the Best First Novel Committee. We chose our winner — THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Tranh Nguyen — back in January, long before the book won a Pulitzer Prize. It’s an exceptional book, and it was hard to keep quiet about it for months! I’m also proud of the choice for another reason: before 2015, any author who wasn’t born in the US wasn’t eligible for Best First Edgar consideration. Literally, a naturalized US citizen like Viet Tranh Nguyen — who was born in Vietnam — couldn’t have entered a book in the category. While I served on MWA’s board, we changed the rules to finally fix that. So the choice of THE SYMPATHIZER thrills me on many levels. I’d also add that our Best First shortlist was filled with gems and I strongly encourage you to read them all.
  • IMG_9162My friend Lou Berney won the Edgar for Best Paperback Original for THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE. That was one of the best moments of the night. Great guy, great book.
  • It was a thrill to watch Janet Rudolph win her Ellery Queen Award. Damn, girl. You were long overdue for that.

One of the best things about the Edgars every year is seeing out-of-town friends in New York. This year, that list includes Sara Paretsky, Jeff Abbott, Jon McGoran, Holly West, Erica Ruth Neubauer, Chantelle Aimee Osman, Joe Finder, and many more fabulous folks. I also love seeing so many of my New York friends gathered in one place. Thanks, Edgar, for a night to remember.

Apr 22 2016

News About “The Siege”

EQMDEC2015Late last year, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine published my story “The Siege.” It was a noir-infused tale about about a woman who seems to have everything… but her relationship with her husband began as an adulterous affair, and when she finds evidence that he’s up to his old tricks, her world starts to fall apart. I’m delighted to announce that “The Siege” is a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story from the Crime Writers of Canada. There are many great stories published every year, so it’s a true honor to have one of mine singled out for recognition. Here’s the complete list of nominees in all categories. Congrats to all!

arthur-200PS to my non-Canadian friends: In case you’re thinking that you need to check out Arthur Ellis’s work, NO. “Arthur Ellis” was the hangman’s pseudonym back in the days when Canada still had capital punishment. If you’re wondering what the award looks like, that’s it on the left. My people have a wonderfully twisted sense of humor.